Title: Starting from Scratch
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press (self published)
Length: 57,000 words approx
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance/erotica, transgender, new adult
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
Release Date: Wednesday 12th April 2017
Series info: Housemates #5
The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain.
Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.
Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.
Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.
Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.
It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?
Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.
I’ve been a fan of this fabulous series from the start and Starting From Scratch is another great installment. Each story features ordinary young men who are exploring their sexuality and entering into their first serious relationship while studying at college and living away from home for the first time. I like how the established couples from previous stories play a role in the subsequent stories. Ben and Sid were introduced in the previous book, Watching and Wanting, and now it’s their turn to fall in love. Ben was the quiet and rather reserved new housemate and Sid was Jude’s ex, who frequently made Shawn jealous. And the friction continues on and off during this story.
The main focus of this story is on Ben and his blossoming relationship with Sid. I adored how Sid helped Ben feel at ease with his body and gave him the confidence to be himself, both in and out of the bedroom. The reader gains an insight into the emotional and physical issues facing many transgender men through Ben’s experience in this story.
There’s no unnecessary drama or angst. I liked the ‘ordinariness’ of their everyday lives. There’s plenty of eating and watching TV. Nothing major happens. It’s all about Ben and Sid getting to know each other, how they respond and how they feel as their relationship develops. The reader experiences the anxiety and doubts as well as the warm, fuzzy feelings of happiness as they fall in love.
The story finishes with a positive happy ending and a strong hint at the next couple. I’m looking forward to reading about this sexy guy who wears eye-liner and lacy panties, and has gained the attention of another supposedly straight guy.
Series Information and Links
The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. This new adult series focuses on themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.
One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.
Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.